Recap: American Gods – Head Full of Snow

By Miclpea
SPOILER ALERT-Do not read if you have not seen episode three of American Gods.

Quote of the Week- “The only thing that scares me is being forgotten.”

This episode opens with a caption noting the location as “Somewhere in America.” An elderly woman is trying to reach for a jar of preserved vegetables while she stands on a teetering chair. She grabs the jar, steps off of the chair, and resumes preparing her evening meal. As she cooks, she talks to her hairless Sphynx cat. There is a knock at the door. The stranger at the door is a black man dressed in black robes. The woman  assumes he is there to see the black family upstairs. He tells her that he is there for her. She then believes that he wants to rob her.

He tells her “no” as he walks into her apartment. He reveals to her that she is dead as he points toward her body lying on the floor. As she stares at her body, he tells her the future of her family. We come to learn that the stranger is Anubis. The woman is curious as to why Anubis has come for her, since she is Muslim. He reminds her of the stories that her grandmother told her of the old gods and the old ways. She has been a secret believer her entire life.

Anubis leads her out of her window and onto the fire escape, heading towards the roof. As they climb higher, the stairs change into a very long stairway to heaven. Once they arrive at the top of the stairs, they enter a beautiful, serene desert landscape. Anubis’ clothes have magically changed and he is now clothed in a white robe. They sit down in front of a scale – which will be used to judge her. Anubis, rather suddenly, plunges his fist into her chest and pulls out her heart.  He then places it on a scale with a feather as a counter weight.

The scales balance and Anubis smiles as a sign that she was judged to be worthy. She is given the option of choosing between five pillars. She asks Anubis to choose for her. He points toward one of the pillars where the door opens. She hesitates in front of the open door to the stars before her Sphynx cat pushes her through the door.

Meanwhile, Shadow is asleep on the sofa when a sudden noise awakens him. He sees something headed to the roof. He goes to the roof where the night sky reveals a strange phenomenon. The clouds form a perfect horseshoe around a certain star constellation. He also finds Zorya Polunochnaya (played by Erika Kaar) staring through a telescope at the night sky and the constellation, called Odin’s wing and the Great Bear. She explains that the three sisters watch the skies all day and night to prevent the escape of a  creature that would devour all creation if released.

Zorya Polunochnaya decides to tell Shadow his fortune. She informs him that her fortunes are the best since virgins give the best fortunes. She tells Shadow that he believes in nothing, so he has nothing. She reveals to him that he is on a path from nothing to everything, but then she suddenly asks him if he sold his head to Czernobog. As he answers yes, she interjects by saying he keeps giving away his life. She states that he does not care if he lives or dies. She decides to help him but asks for something in return. She wants a kiss, since she has never been kissed. Before he can answer or agree,  Zorya Polunochnaya quickly lunges at him for a quick and awkward kiss. After she kisses him, she reaches toward the moon and plucks it from the night sky. The moon transforms into a silver dollar, which she gives to Shadow with the admonishment that must never to give it away or lose it.  She reminds him that he was given the sun previously, which he lost. She tells Shadow that he needs to stop squandering his gifts and then instructs him to wake up.

Shadow awakens on the sofa with renewed confidence. He finds Czernobog and manages to convince him to play a second match by denigrating his ability to kill him with one blow. The offer was simple and enticing – If Shadow loses, Czernobog gets a second blow to kill Shadow. However, if Shadow wins, Czernobog must accompany them to Wisconsin.

The two play again and Shadow wins the second match because he recognizes that Czernobog has not changed his checker playing strategy. The defeated Czernobog agrees to accompany Wotan to Wisconsin, but then he will kill Shadow.

As Shadow was busy with Czernobog, Wednesday continues his seduction of Zorya Vechernyaya.  He goes to her bedroom and enters as she combs her hair. He shamelessly flatters her by reminding her of what she has lost. He combs her hair as she remembers. He asks her to read his fortune. She says he will fail in the “thing” he wants to do and they will win. Although it is not explicitly stated, she is referring to his war with the new gods. Wednesday makes an interesting comment to the effect that it is only his fortune today. He takes her outside, where there is a large storm brewing.

As they walk, Wednesday tells Zorya Vechernyaya that he wants knowledge above all else. She tells him that they will kill him this time. He asks her if she remembers when they were young. He kisses her to remind her as lightning and thunder race across the night sky. At that moment, she looks at Wednesday with fear and asks what has he done. As it starts to rain, she tells him that she can taste him in the rain, but oddly she asks him what else can she taste. He tells her, war.

The next morning, Shadow awakens and the rooms with the sisters are gone, but he still has the silver dollar. Wednesday tells Shadow that they are going to rob a bank.

Meanwhile, Mad Sweeney is passed out in the bathroom stall when the gun toting bartender points a shotgun at him. Mad Sweeney assumes the gun will malfunction; it doesn’t. But she just wanted to warn him. Next, we see Mad Sweeney walking along the roadside where he is picked up by a passing motorist. In a very bizarre and gruesome accident, the motorist is killed by a pipe falling from a truck.  Mad Sweeney realizes that something is horribly amiss, which starts him frantically looking for his lucky coin. It’s gone!

In New York City, there is a scene where we are introduced to a sad man, Salim,  trying to sell cheap items. Salim waits all day for an interview with an executive of a global company that never takes place. When he leaves the building, there is a rain storm and it is difficult to find a ride. Finally, a cab stops. The cab driver is the man who had been talking to Wednesday in the diner from episode two. Salim gets into the cab.

As the cab pulls away from the curb, the cab driver curses at another driver, who cut him off, in Arabic. Salim then speaks Arabic to the cab driver, which starts a conversation between them. They discuss many things, including a city that was excavated in the middle east. At a traffic jam, the driver falls asleep because he has been driving his taxi for over 30 hours. Salim gently touches him and the driver’s shades slip, which allows the passenger to see his burning eyes. Salim recognizes the driver as a Jinn. He tells the driver that his grandmother had told him that she had seen an ifrit in the desert with burning eyes.  Salim, of course, told his grandmother that it had been some trick of the desert.

He asked the driver if there were many Jinn in New York. The Jinn tells him there are no others. He also tells Salim that he does not grant wishes or otherwise he would not be driving a cab. Salim touches the driver on the shoulder and the driver returns the touch. As the Jinn touches Salim, there is a moment when their touch brings visions of the desert.

The cab driver drops Salim off at his hotel. As Salim gets out, he tells the cab driver his room number. Next, we see them in the elevator holding hands. In Salim’s hotel room the Jinn reminds the Salim that he does not grant wishes but the passenger says that he does. They engage in intense lovemaking as they are transformed and transported to the desert. At one point, it appears that the essence of the Jinn enters Salim. The next morning the Jinn is gone but Salim takes the identity of the taxi driver as his new life in America begins. He looks in the rear- view mirror and he says, “I do not grant wishes.”

Meanwhile, Wednesday proceeds with his plan to rob a bank. He goes to the local branch and takes a bunch of deposit slips. He tells Shadow to write down the phone number of a freestanding payphone and to “think of snow.” Shadow is visibly concerned with the plan to rob the bank because he does not want to go back to jail. To calm Shadow down, Wednesday purchases him hot cocoa with a lot of marshmallows. As they drive toward a print shop, Wednesday continues to tell Shadow to “think of snow”. At the print shop, Wednesday orders cards and several signs while Shadow continues to think of snow before he falls asleep in the print shop. When he awakens, it is snowing. They head towards a diner to eat before “robbing” the bank.

At the diner, Mad Sweeney finds Shadow and Wednesday, where he demands that Shadow return his lucky coin. Shadow points out that he won the coin and more importantly, he no longer has it. If Sweeney wants it, he has to go to the grave of Shadow’s wife to get it. This, of course, infuriates Mad Sweeney, but he has no choice. He goes to the grave site where he digs up Laura’s casket. There is a coin sized hole in the casket and the casket is empty.

At the bank, under the cover of the snowstorm, Wednesday’s scheme to rob the bank is unveiled and it is genius! Wednesday is dressed as a security guard. He gives Shadow a card and tells him to wait by the phone. Wednesday then takes a folding chair and the signs he had printed at the print shop and goes in front of the ATM machine and overnight deposit box outside of the bank branch. He puts an ‘Unavailable’ sign over the ATM machine and overnight deposit box. He sits in front of the bank and takes the deposits from the customers while having them sign his clipboard and take a completed deposit slip as proof of deposit. Shadow sees how successful the ruse is and smiles with approval. Wednesday is pulling off a great con scheme to rob the bank and he doesn’t even have to enter the building.

This goes on for a while before a cop pulls up. Wednesday walks over to the police car and appears to explain to the policeman what is happening. He gives the policeman his card. The phone on the street in front of Shadow rings. He answers and pretends to be the security guard’s supervisor. At first, Shadow reluctantly answers the questions but as the conversation progresses, he plays his part better and better. The policeman’s concerns are addressed and he drives away.

Wednesday was right. The bank “heist’ is a success and Shadow does not have to go back to jail.  As they drive along in the night to their motel, Wednesday splits the money and tells Shadow that he just wants Shadow to believe in him. In the middle of the road, a wolf crosses their path. Shadow manages to stop in time. Wednesday seems to be particularly happy to see the wolf.

Shadow takes this moment to ask Wednesday if Shadow made it snow. Wednesday tells him that if he believes he made it snow, then he can believe he can do anything. During this conversation, Wednesday says that the only thing he fears is being forgotten. It is the only thing he can’t survive.

Back at the motel, Shadow goes to his room. There is a reason Laura is not in her coffin. She appears in Shadow’s room and appears to very much alive.

In this episode we meet new gods: Anubis and the Jinn. Anubis and the Jinn bring in the middle eastern pantheon of gods. What is not clear is what part they will play in the coming conflict. Wednesday discussed something with the Jinn earlier but again it is not clear what they discussed. Both Anubis and the Jinn have current day followers who still believe in them.

Shadow was given another gift of the gods when Zorya Polunochnaya gave him the “moon.” Shadow beat Czernobog in a game of checkers by regaining his confidence. Did Shadow make it snow and why is Zorya Vechernyaya afraid of what Wednesday has done?

A wolf crossed Shadow and Wednesday’s path the night of the snow storm. Wednesday was pleased to see the wolf. There is a wolf in Norse legend, Fenrir, who was bound by the gods for fear of what he would become as his growth seemed to have no limits. It is possible the wolf signifies the release of Fenrir. Remember, the sisters watched the skies to prevent the release of a monster that could destroy the world. Has Wednesday started Ragnarok?

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Miclpea

I love going to conventions around the US. I’m an ardent fan of all things science fiction and especially The Expanse. I write for Friends of CC and I have written a science fiction script with a friend.